A Theater Kid’s First Crush Becomes An Offbeat Coming-Of-Age Comedy


  • Everett Blunck shines as Griffin in a star-making performance.
  • Griffin in Summer skillfully balances humor, heart, and adolescent struggles.
  • The film’s hopeful and earned ending hits all the right emotional notes.

Most people remember their first crush — if not the person, then it’s that initial feeling that lingers, but there’s something about a young queer person’s first crush that just hits different. It’s not just discovering the capacity to really like someone — it’s the unearthing of a part of yourself that feels wholly new, wildly exciting, and a little bit scary. Griffin in Summer, a brilliant new feature from debut writer-director Nicholas Colia, is about one of those first crushes, but it becomes so much more over the course of its brisk runtime.

Somewhere in Massachusetts, 14-year-old Griffin Nafly begins his summer ready to put on a play with his friends. The precocious redhead describes his own script as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? meets American Beauty, and Griffin demands 60-hour weeks for rehearsal, a level of commitment his friends, who are just discovering boys and booze, don’t really vibe with.

Griffin In Summer Is So Much More Than A Coming-Of-Age Tale

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Melanie Lynskey in Griffin in Summer. 

Griffin is quiet but demanding when it matters, using a commanding tone to assert himself when he otherwise would face pushback for his peculiar wants and needs. His mother (Melanie Lynskey), who he calls by her first name, usually acquiesces, more out of exasperation than anything. Griffin is kind of a loner in his own way — his best friend Kara (played by Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret breakout Abby Ryder Fortson) seems more concerned with her boyfriend and his other friends are beginning to pursue other interests.

Everett Blunck gives a star-making turn as Griffin.

Griffin’s isolation isn’t uncommon when you’re young and queer, and it’s an isolation that allows him to explore parts of himself that may otherwise lie dormant. When Griffin meets Brad (Owen Teague) he is quickly enamored with the pool boy, gazing at his tattooed arms and subtly toned physique. It’s clear that it’s a new feeling to Griffin — he may have seen hot men in magazines or on television, but to be confronted with a hunk in your own backyard is an entirely different feeling.

As Griffin, Everett Blunck gives a star-making turn. There’s a cautious anxiety in the way he moves that’s in direct conflict with his outward-facing persona. This certainly explains the way he expresses himself, but there’s also an unbound sense of curiosity that is only unlocked further by this new crush. Blunck’s comedic timing allows for his awkward moments with Brad to be played in a way that makes audiences feel the way Griffin might when he’s rebuffed — curious, scared, and a little bit embarrassed.


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It’s a plot that could easily veer into scary territory, but Colia handles Griffin’s crush and Brad’s character with a careful sensibility that eludes any stickiness. Brad is oblivious to Griffin’s feelings, but after a few days, the two connect because of their shared interest in art. Brad was a Brooklyn-based performance artist before he was forced to return home to save up some money and Griffin sees a kindred spirit in Brad, their love of art and performance transcending age and circumstance to bring them together.

As summer progresses and Griffin and Brad get closer, hilarity ensues. Brad steps in to take over the male role in Griffin’s play, and we get a hilariously off-kilter sequence where Brad is acting opposite two tween girls. We also meet Brad’s girlfriend, played with delightful chaos by Kathryn Newton. All the characters feel fully fleshed out and even those we don’t get to spend too much time with, like Griffin’s absentee father, feel like they have an internal world that goes beyond what we see on screen.

Griffin In Summer Sticks The Landing

Its climax hits all the right notes

Close of Everett Blunck as Griffin in Griffin in Summer
Everett Blunck in Griffin in Summer. 

Smartly, the movie doesn’t rely on Brad for an emotional climax, letting Griffin feel both disappointment and a newfound joy in rejection. Griffin’s adoration of Brad is his and his alone, something he will hold on to beyond his blustering adolescence. In its own way, Griffin’s experience is universal, but Griffin in Summer finds specificity in its amusingly abrasive central character. Paired with some of the film’s more subtle elements, Griffin in Summer becomes a masterful coming-of-age comedy and one of 2024’s best films.

Griffin in Summer premiered at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival.

Griffin in Summer (2024) - Poster

When fourteen-year-old playwright Griffin Naffly strikes up a surprise summer friendship with handsome failed performance artist turned handyman Brad, his life (and play) will never be the same.


  • Everett Blunck gives a star-making performance as Griffin.
  • Griffin in Summer balances its first-crush-story with heart, humor, and adolescent turmoil.
  • The movie hits all the right notes with a hopeful, earned ended.

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